Ecuador: Copper Mine threatens spectacled bears

Cloud forest and spectacled bear Highly endangered spectacled bears are living in the Intag forests. (Credit: (©
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There are large copper reserves underneath Ecuador’s Toisan Mountains. The government wants to turn these into money – the people, the montane rainforests as well as the spectacled bears would have to give way. The inhabitants want to preserve nature and are asking for our support: Sign the petition to President Correa

Call to action

To: The Government of Ecuador


Read letter

“Our unique nature and the social peace are much more valuable than copper,” the residents of the Intag say. The montane rainforests in northern Ecuador are among the most species-rich ecosystems in the country. The rare spectacled bears are also living here. Unfortunately, copper and gold reserves can also be found there. Mining companies have been trying to exploit the area for almost 20 years. However, until today they have failed due to the people's strong cohesion and resistance.

They are supported by the local environmental group DECOIN . Together, they have forced the government and international mining companies to surrender: in 1997, the Japanese Mitsubishi Group was affected and in 2009, the Canadian company Copper Mesa / Ascendant Copper Corporation.

Rainforest Rescue has long been supporting the people in the Intag. 3,000 hectares of threatened montane rainforests above the copper reserves have been bought with donations and transferred as communal forest to the Junin village.

The government however is making another attempt. President Rafael Correa has set up the state-owned mining company ENAMI. Together with the Chilean state-owned company CODELCO, the world's largest copper producer, he wants to approach the Llurimagua project, which is the official name of the mining concession in the Troisan Mountains.

The government is trying to mislead the public with advertising campaigns of “social and environmentally responsible mining”. The inhabitants who are trying to protect their rainforests, livelihoods and rights, are being persecuted with smear campaigns.

This year, the mining project is supposed to start. The Intag's inhabitants are asking for our support. Together with Intag e.V., Rainforest Rescue is protesting. Please write to President Correa



Every one of us consumes about one ton of copper in his life. Copper can be found in electrical cables and equipment, water pipes, cars, mobile phones, machinery and power plants. Up to 30 tons of copper are being used in ring generators of large wind turbines. Copper of up to several hundred kilometres can be found in the generator windings.

Last year, more than 19 million tons of the industrial metal was used around the world.

The alternatives

The fight against mining in the Intag has caused many alternative projects to evolve. These include, inter alia, ecotourism, arts and crafts and the cultivation of organic coffee (available in our rainforest shop ).They are helping the people to earn a living and to live a self-determined life in harmony with nature. The umbrella organization Corporación Toisan is coordinating the various initiatives of the people.

The donations of Rainforest Rescue enabled the residents to build a tourist accommodation made of bamboo. It is run by the villagers of Junin. They are offering tours through the montane rainforests and to the waterfalls. Anyone who wants to visit Junin and the Intag region can find more infos on Intagtours.


To: The Government of Ecuador

Dear President Rafael Correa,

The Ecuadorian Constitution, which was drafted under your watch, recognizes the right of nature in a groundbreaking way. It also includes the principle of “the good life (Buen vivir)”. Both rights are being admired by the whole world.

Unfortunately, your government is planning to exploit the country's natural resources. This clearly conflicts with the constitution. The consequences of mining show that same is neither “sustainable” nor “responsible”.

With regard to the planned copper mine in the Intag region (Llurimagua project), this would entail relocating several communities, cutting down rainforests, ablating entire mountainsides, diverting rivers as well as building landfills for millions of tons of toxic waste.

With various economic and social initiatives, the inhabitants of the Intag region have shown for many years that development is also possible in other ways.
The people are demanding ever since:
+ To give up on mining in the area once and for all.
+ To stop the smear and slanderous campaigns against local organizations and individuals who oppose the mining.
+ To observe the human rights, the right of nature and the principle of “good living” all of which are guaranteed in the Constitution.
+ To actively support the communities and the Toisán Association, consisting of eight local organizations, with alternative ways to develop.

Please remember that the long-term preservation of nature is more important for your country and its inhabitants than the short-term revenue from the mining of copper, gold and oil.

Yours sincerely,

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